Time for a new weekly challenge, and this time we are throwing ourselves into self-esteem building practices for real! Or we actually started out last week with some hands on practical challenges: rejection therapy – going out there and asking questions that put us in a great likelihood of getting rejected, but not just any provocative questions. No, we wanted to ask maximize the self-esteem building effect, and hence these questions needed to be coming from a place of genuine curiosity or just aligning with our goals, believes or just something that we know would make us grow and benefit us if we did it. And what a week – make sure to go back and look at all my days of vlogging if you haven’t already.
But so, this week we are getting ourselves into the theoretical part of self-esteem, because this isn’t a topic we can just move past on a very shallow level. I believe this is one of the most fundamental core pieces if we want to reach our true capacity and live as happy and fulfilled folks. Still, it’s a tuff topic to address, because the things that the theoretical side of it addresses, is just so hard to grasp. Or I should say, it needs to be pinned down to simultaneously practical experience. We can’t swallow a whole book in a week and expect to deeply understand the implication and ramification of it – at least I can’t! This need to take it’s time, and I believe if we do so, the rewards will benefit us on a core level for the rest of our lives.
So, what does this mean for us? Well as guidance through this self-esteem building Journey we are relying on two sides. One theoretical part that will be based on Nathaniel Brandens book: The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, where we will address one of these pillars for one week at the time. And then we have the purely practical application of Rejection Therapy to break up with every other week – to make sure we’re actually putting in some real action. But also to enjoy the process of growing our Self-esteem, because Rejection therapy is incredibly fun, yet so daunting. This means we have six weeks ahead of us – unless we somehow need to course correct, but that’s the initial plan!
I don’t want these videos to be too long – I’ll lose you then. So instead I’m going to briefly address the main points and give a structural overview, and then quite quickly go the practical exercises, which will be this week’s objectives and are directly taken from this book and designed to math every Self-esteem pilllar. I’ll also emphasise you to read some of your own from this book, know if you don’t want to go out and buy it. You could listen to the audiobook, either through audible.com (get a free 30-day trial if you sign up) But I also found it on YouTube ( link ). Since we’re only doing the first pillar, what will be covered this week is only about 20 minutes, plus 50 if you want a better understanding of the fundamental concept of self-esteem (first chapter) – which I recommend!
So enough with the appetisers – what the heck is self-esteem? We’ll start on a very shallow level and present the basic concepts and key understandings to get going, and then we might discuss it more throughout the week. As Nathaniel Branden says: “What determines the level of self-esteem is what the individual does.” – that means action will our focus, not just reading and learning about it. Just to be clear, I am by no means an expert in this area, which means this will be a growth journey for me as well. This also means I’m going to try something new and quote my way through this video with the help of the book – to not mess anything up! We’ll see if it works or not! Anyhow, let’s get started.
Nathanidel branden’s definition of Self-Esteem:
“Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness. It is confidence in the efficacy of our mind, in our ability to think. By extension, it is confidence in our ability to learn, make appropriate choices and decisions, and respond effectively to change. It is also the experience that success, achievement, fulfillment – happiness – are right and natural for us. The survival-value of such confidence is obvious; so is the danger when it is missing.” (Branden, 1995)
Or a more condensed spin to it which really stick with you:
“Self esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves.”
Having a precise definition – according to Branden – serves the purpose of giving us a clear target to aim to. That’s also why the theoretical part is a necessity to complement the practical side developing a strong self-esteem, it gives us a language and terms to think in when analysing ourselves and the actions we take in the context of building self-esteem. Something that in theory, and from own experience, should rapidly increase our ability to grasp and develop within this area.
Now as I’ve said, I only want to give you a very brief structural overview to keep this condensed. But the next level of this is also of importance to understand:
“Self-esteem has two interrelated components. One is a sense of basic confidence in the face life’s challenges: self-efficacy. The other is a sense of being worthy of happiness: self-respect. Self-efficacy means confidence in the functioning of my mind, in my ability to think, nderstand, learn, choose, and make decisions; confidence in my ability to understand the acts of reality that fall within the sphere of my interests and needs; self-trust; self-reliance.
Self-respect means assurance of my value; an affirmative attitude toward my right to live and to be happy; comfort in appropriately asserting my thoughts, wants, and needs; the feeling that joy and fulfilment are my natural birth right.”
So that’s just the understanding of what Self-esteem is – but why do we need it?
“…self-esteem is a fundamental human need. Its impact requires neither our understanding or our consent. It works its way within us with or without our knowledge. We are free to seek to grasp the dynamics of self-esteem or to remain unconscious of them, but in the latter case we remain a mystery to ourselves and endure the consequences.”
(Branden, p. 3)
“A part from disturbance whose roots are biological, I cannot think of a single psychological problem—from anxiety and depression, to underachievement at school or at work, to fear of intimacy, happiness, or success, to alcohol or drug abuse, to spouse battering or child molestation, to co-dependency and sexual disorders, to passivity and chronic aimlessness, to suicide and crimes of violence—that is not traceable, at least in part, to the problem of deficient self-esteem. Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves.”
“(Branden, p. XV)
“The value of self-esteem lies not merely in the fact that it allows us to feel better but that it llows us to live better-to respond to challenges and opportunities more resourcefully and ore appropriately.”
“The more solid our self-esteem, the better equipped we are to cope with troubles that arise in our personal lives or in our careers; the quicker we are to pick ourselves up after a fall; the more energy we have to begin a new. (An extraordinarily high number of successful entrepreneurs have two or more bankruptcies in their past; failure did not stop them.) The higher our self-esteem, the more ambitious we tend to be, not necessarily in a career or financial sense, but in terms of what we hope to experience in life-emotionally, intellectually, creatively, spiritually. The lower our self-esteem, the less we aspire to. and the less we are likely to achieve. Either path tends to be self-reinforcing and self-perpetuating.” (Branden, p.6)
“We have all heard the observation, “If you do not love yourself, you will be unable to love others.” Less well understood is the other half of the story. If I do not feel lovable, it is very difficult to believe that anyone else loves me. If I do not accept myself, how can I accept your love for me? Your warmth and devotion are confusing: it confounds my selfconcept, since I “know” I am not lovable. Your feeling for me cannot possibly be real, reliable, or’ lasting. If I do not feel lovable, your love for me becomes an effort to fill a sieve, and eventually the effort is likely to exhaust you. (Branden, p.8)
“Once again we observe the basic pattern of self-destruction: If I “know” my fate is to be unhappy, I must not allow reality to confuse me with happiness. It is not I who must adjust to reality, but reality that must adjust to me and to my “knowledge” of the way things are and are meant to be.” (Branden, p.11)
“Self-esteem creates a set of implicit expectations about what is possible and appropriate to us. These expectations tend to generate the actions that turn them into realities. And the realities confirm and strengthen the original beliefs. Self-esteem-high or low-tends to be a generator of self-fulfilling prophecies.” (Branden, p.14)
“And finally, research discloses that high self-esteem is one of the best predictors of personal happiness, as is discussed in D. G. Meyers’ The Pursuit of Happiness. Logically enough, low self-esteem correlates with unhappiness.” (Branden, p.7)
So, how do we build self-esteem?
“What determines the level of self-esteem is what the individual does.”
“In approaching the roots of self-esteem, why do we put our focus on practices, that is, on (mental or physical) actions? The answer is that every value pertaining to life requires action to be achieved, sustained, or enjoyed. In Ayn Rand‘s definition, life is a process of self–generated and self-sustaining action. The organs and systems within our body support our existence by continuous action, We pursue and maintain our values in the world through action. As I discuss in some detail in The Psychology of self-Esteem, it is in the very nature of a value that it is the object of an action. And this includes the value of self-esteem.” (Branden, p. 60)
The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: Pillar one – The practice of living consciously
There are Six Pillars, I’m not even going to mention them all at this moment in fear of losing you – we’ll get to the other ones eventually.
“To live consciously means to seek to be aware of everything that bears on our actions, purposes, values, and goals-to the best of our ability, whatever that ability may ~and to behave in accordance with that which we see and know.” (Branden, p 69)
“Why is consciousness so important? Because for all species that possess it,consciousness is the basic tool of survival-the ability to be aware of the environment in some form, at some level, and to guide action accordingly. I use consciousness here in its primary meaning: the state of being conscious or aware of some aspect of reality. We also may speak of consciousness as a faculty-the attribute of being able to be aware. To the distinctively human form of consciousness, with its capacity for concept formation and abstract thought, we give the name mind. As we have discussed, we are beings for whom consciousness (at the conceptual level) is volitional. This means that the design of our nature contains an extraordinary option-that of seeking awareness or not bothering (or actively avoiding it), seeking truth or not bothering (or actively avoiding it), focusing our mind or not bothering (or choosing to drop to a lower level of consciousness). In other words, we have the option of exercising our powers or of subverting our means of survival and well-being. This capacity for self-management is our glory and, at times, our burden. Our mind is our basic tool of survival. Betray it and self-esteem suffers.
If we do not bring an appropriate level of consciousness to our activities, if we do not live mindfully, the inevitable penalty is a diminished sense of self-efficacy and self-respect. We cannot feel competent and worthy while conducting our lives in a mental fog. Our mind is our basic tool of survival. Betray it and self-esteem suffers. The simplest form of this betrayal is the evasion of discomfiting facts. (Branden, p. 67-68)
“The Specifics of living Consciously
Living consciously entails:
- A mind that is active rather than passive.
- An intelligence that takes joy in its own function.
- Being “in the moment,” without losing the wider context.
- Reaching out toward relevant facts rather than withdrawing from them.
- Being concerned to distinguish among facts, interpretations, and emotions.
- Noticing and confronting my impulses to avoid or deny painful or threatening realities.
- Being concerned to know “where I am” relative to my various (personal and professional) goals and projects, and whether I am succeeding or failing.
- Being concerned to know if my actions are in alignment with my purposes.
- Searching for feedback from the environment so as to adjust or correct my course when necessary.
- Persevering in the attempt to understand in spite of difficulties.
- Being receptive to new knowledge and willing to reexamine old assumptions.
- Being willing to see and correct mistakes.
- Seeking always to expand awareness-a commitment to learning therefore, a commitment to growth as a way of life.
- A concern to understand the world around me.
- A concern to know not only external reality but also internal reality, the reality of my needs, feelings, aspirations, and motives, so that I am not a stranger or a mystery to myself.
- A concern to be aware of the values that move and guide me, as well as their roots, so that I am not ruled by values I have irrationally adopted or uncritically accepted from others.”
So, the Self-esteem building exercise we are going to do this week will only take 5-10 minutes per day, and it is directly taken from the book. I believe doing exercises like this has an initial resistance to it (at least to me), so if one isn’t used to this type of self-work. But he guarantees the positive effect of it after evaluating the use of it on his clients. So, have faith in it, and just do it!
EXACT DESCRIPTION FROM THE BOOK FOR SENTENCE COMPLETION:
“Sentence Completions to Facilitate the Art of living Consciously
Sentence-completion work is a deceptively simple yet uniquely powerful tool for raising self-understanding, self-esteem, and personal effectiveness. It rests on the premise that all of us have more knowledge than we normally are aware of-more wisdom than we use, more potentials than typically show up in our behavior. Sentence completion is a tool for accessing and activating these “hidden resources.” Sentence completion can be used in many ways. Here I will describe a way I find particularly effective. The essence of this procedure is to write an incomplete sentence, a sentence stem, and to keep adding different endings-the sole requirement being that each ending be a grammatical completion of the sentence. We want a minimum of six endings.
We should work as rapidly as possible-no pauses to “think,” inventing if we get stuck, without worrying if any particular ending is true, reasonable, or significant. Any ending is fine, just keep going. When doing sentence completion this way, we work with a notebook, typewriter, or computer. (~ acceptable alternative is to do the sentence ompletions into a tape recorder, in which case you keep repeating the stem into a recorder, each time completing it with a difference ending. You play the work back later to reflect on it.) Sentence-completion work can be used for many different purposes. Some of them will be examined in the course of this book. Right now, how might we use the technique to facilitate the process of learning to live more consciously?
First thing in the morning, before proceeding to the day’s business, sit down and write the following stem:
Living consciously to me means –
Then, as rapidly as possible, without pausing for reflection, write as many endings for that sentence as you can in two or three minutes (never fewer than six, but ten is enough). Do not worry if your endings are literally true, make sense, or are “profound.” Write anything, but write something.
Then, go on to the next stem: If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my activities today-
(Why only 5 percent? Let us proceed in small, nonintimidating, “bitesizechews.” Besides, most of the time 5 percent is plenty!)
Then: If I pay more attention to how· I deal with people today-
Then: If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my most important relationships-
Then: If I bring 5 percent more awareness to (fill in a particular problem you are concerned about-for example, your relationship with someone, or a barrier you’ve hit at work, or your feelings of anxiety or depression) –
When you are finished, proceed with your day’s business. At the end of the day, as your last task before dinner, do six to ten endings each for the following stems:
When I reflect on how I would feel if I lived more consciously-
When I reflect what happens when I bring 5 percent more awareness to my activities-
When I reflect on what happens when I bring 5 percent more awareness to my most important relationships-
When I reflect on what happens when I bring 5 percent more awareness to (whatever you’ve filled in)-
Do this exercise every day, Monday through Friday for the first week. Do not read what you wrote the day before. Naturally there will be many repetitions. But also, new endings will inevitably occur. You are energizing all of your psyche to work for you. Sometime each weekend, reread what you have written for the week, and then write a minimum of six endings for this stem:
If any of what I wrote this week is true, it would be helpful if 1-
In doing this work, the ideal is to empty your mind of any expectations concerning what will happen or what is “supposed” to happen. Do not impose any demands on the situation. Try to empty your mind of expectations.
Do the exercise, go about your day’s activities, and merely notice any differences in how you feel or how you operate. You will discover that you have set in motion forces that make it virtually impossible foryou to avoid operating more consciously.”
Know that I haven’t tried this myself yet, so we’ll see how it feels like! And as I practice 5-day challenges, I’m gonna do this last part on Friday instead !
Also – the idea is to actively raise our consciousness throughout the day! For me this is going to mean active journaling and checking in on myself every hour (did a challenge on this some weeks back Link: https://youtu.be/kBCu1fOxagI ). Trying to be aware and present and listening to my emotions and what my subconscious are telling me. This is such a powerful thing to do, and cannot be grasped and understand until one start to practice it. It has meant incredibly much for me lately.
As a last objective (Prioritise them in this orderJ ), I’m going to recommend you to read / listen to the book as well. That is the first part of it and the chapter about pillar on – living consciously. The audio book is a bit condensed compared to the text-book, and the first introductory chapter addressing Self-esteem on a more general level is only about 50 minutes, and then the part on living consciously goes on for only 20 more. So, I strongly recommend you to do that!
So that’s the challenge! We’ll see how it goes, it’s a deep dive into Self-Esteem, and an important one. We’ll se how the week vlog will play out, it will no be as intense as last week – that’s for sure!
So good luck & let me know how you feel about this one!
See you in the week,
Branden, N. (1995) The six pillars of self-esteem. New York, NY: Random House Publishing Group.
The full audio book:
Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden – Insights & Perspectives (Part 1)
Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden – Insights & Perspectives (Part 2)